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Unformatted text preview: Cobot in LambdaMOO: A Social Statistics Agent Charles Lee Isbell, Jr. Michael Kearns Dave Kormann Satinder Singh Peter Stone AT&T Shannon Labs 180 Park Avenue Florham Park, NJ 07932-0971 Abstract We describe our development of Cobot, a software agent who lives in LambdaMOO, a popular virtual world frequented by hundreds of users. We present a detailed discussion of the functionality that has made him one of the objects most fre- quently interacted with in LambdaMOO, human or artificial. Introduction The internet is a medium where large groups of people build social communities. This presents both a challenge and an opportunity for artificial intelligence and software agent re- searchers. In such communities, agents may do more than filter mail, and retrieve price quotes for consumer items; they may be legitimate, if still limited, participants in close-knit social environments. This paper presents Cobot, a software agent that lives in an active online community frequented by several hundred users (LambdaMOO, which we describe in requisite detail in the next section). His goal is to interact with other mem- bers of the community and to become a vital, useful and accepted part of his social fabric. Toward this end, Cobot tracks actions taken by users, building statistics on who per- forms what actions, and on whom they use them. For ex- ample, Cobot tracks which users converse with each other most frequently. Using his chatting interface, Cobot can answer queries about these and other usage statistics, and describe the statistical similarities and differences between users. This information also provides Cobot with a user model that may be used for learning, imitation and con- versation. Cobots chat abilities include a simple and novel method inspired by information retrieval that allows him to choose appropriate utterances from very large documents. During Cobots months in LambdaMOO, he has become a member of the community. As we will see in subsequent sections, users interact with Cobot more than with any other user (human or artificial), take advantage of social statistics he provides, converse with him, and discuss him. Following the pioneering studies of (Foner, 1993; Foner, 1997), we present transcripts establishing the sociological impact of Cobot. We compare the techniques that we have used to implement Cobots set of social skills to those of Copyright c 2000, American Association for Artificial Intelli- gence (www.aaai.org). All rights reserved. previous MUD agents, such as Julia (Foner, 1997), and dis- cuss how these techniques affect user expectations. In addi- tion to the more anecdotal evidence provided by transcripts, we provide quantitative statistical support for our belief that Cobot has not only become part of the social environment in which he resides, but has significantly altered it as well....
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